The aroma of low tide permeated the cold morning air as we headed out toward the open Chesapeake Bay in Mike Breedlove’s Grady-White boat early last Friday morning. This was the second day of the 15th annual Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout, and Mike, Randy Owen, Kevin Cheatham (we could do an entire article on Kevin and his outdoor exploits) and I were hoping to land 3 big stripers. The largest striped bass (aka rockfish) tournament on the East Coast boasted a top prize of almost $35,000 this year and we wanted to bring home our share of the dough. We’d had a good day Thursday and found ourselves in 4th place out of 84 teams with two big rockfish that weighed nearly 60 pounds total.

Luckily Mike had the tools and spare parts with him to get us back rolling after a wheel bearing blowout on the boat trailer delayed us almost 2 hours. With the help of good friends Teacher and his son Adam we made a mad dash to the weigh in scales before the 5 PM cut off. And thank goodness my momma, Mary Ellen Robertson Ragsdale, told me to wear my “long handle underwear” under my pants along with a warm cap and gloves. Last time she’d forgotten to remind me to dress appropriately and I found myself very underdressed for cold weather in a pair of Bermuda shorts, a T-Shirt and sandals. She’d also advised me to “don’t get on no little bitty boat and go out in that rough water”. She felt that I would “need to be warm and safe and don’t catch a cold”. And my dad, John Henry Bowen, said “don’t fall ote the bote”. Thank goodness both my parents love me so.

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